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Orlando Magic News for February 12th: Shaquille O'Neal Speaks and Dwight Howard Responds, a Look at NBA All-Star Weekend in the Past and the Present, and More

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  • Shaq on Howard: "Superman my ass"
    Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk attempts to decipher what Shaquille O'Neal is trying to accomplish with his remarks about Dwight Howard.

    Shaq learned a few things from Phil Jackson back in the day -- his "off the cuff" remarks often have a subtext and goal. [...]

    So Shaq challenges Howard's manhood, tries to goad him into single coverage for the next meeting. Because as good a defender as Howard is, Shaq can do some damage one-on-one. Shaq was trying to set up the two meetings left between these teams, and more importantly the playoff meetings down the line.
  • Me vs. Shaq!!!
    On his blog, Howard responds to O'Neal's comments.

    I really think the hype out there about me and Shaq is all just TV build up. I know he had some things to say about me and Stan Van Gundy last year, and he said some other stuff Thursday night after our game about us having to double-team him. But really, I don’t have a problem with Shaq and I don’t think he has a problem with me either.

    Everybody makes it a big deal with all of the Superman thing and all of that, but I never proclaimed myself to be a super man. It’s just something that I did in the dunk contest, wearing the shirt and the cape for fun. It’s not like I tried to take Shaq’s show or anything like that.
  • Shaq Turns Cute Dwight Howard Rivalry into Blood Feud
    Eric Freeman of The Baseline thinks there's more to it.

    Sorry, Dwight, but Shaq does have a problem with you. This is what he does: he gets angry over slight matters and turns them into motivation for lengthy feuds. What you perceived as a goofy costume was Shaq's version of comedians stealing jokes. Get ready for more classic digs from the Big Machismo, because he's not about to let this go away.

More after the jump.

  • Dwight Howard will do some announcing tonight on TNT and other Orlando Magic odds and ends
    Josh Robbins shares some news on Howard's busy All-Star weekend.

  • Stopper's Spotlight
    Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus lists the top defensive players in the NBA "by NBAPET, in order of dMULT." Here's a rundown of what this individual defensive metric is, which rates Dwight Howard as the best defender in the league:

    What dMULT now attempts is to measure is the points created per possession used allowed by a player's box score counterparts versus their usual production. So a dMULT of .869, which is what Thabo Sefolosha currently sports, means that his counterparts have been 13.1 percent less productive when going against Thabo. A dMULT of 1.105 would mean that opponents have been 10.5 percent more productive. And so on. (Current dMULT scores are listed on our player pages.) [...]

    1. Dwight Howard, ORL (C, .709): There is a near consensus that Howard has become the NBA's most dominant defensive force. Physically, he has it all and he really exhibits the kind of mobility it takes to be a great defending big man in today's NBA.
  • Top 10 NBA All-Star Moments of the 2000’s
    Dime Magazine lists the top ten All-Star moments of the 2000's. The Magic are well-represented, with appearances by Tracy McGrady (self alley-oop in 2002) and Howard ("Superman" dunk in 2008).

  • LeBron James, Dwyane Wade among five surprising free agents
    Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated shares words of wisdom from head coach Stan Van Gundy.

    On the cliché of playing well going into the All-Star break. Orlando enters the weekend with a three-game winning streak and victories in 10 of its last 13 games, but Van Gundy isn't sure it will carry through the long weekend. "You need to be playing well at the start of the season, in the middle of the season, into the break, out of the break -- you always want to be playing well," he said. "Other than the playoffs, I don't know if there's a time more important than any other.
  • New Faces, Trade Talk Highlight Big D's Big Weekend
    Sean Deveney of The Baseline writes that Van Gundy is humbled to coach the Eastern Conference in the 2010 NBA All-Star Game.

    For Orlando's Stan Van Gundy, it's a bit humbling, being tabbed as the coach of the Eastern Conference All-Star team. After all, Van Gundy recognizes the unlikelihood of his current station—he got his start in coaching 27 years ago, at Castleton State College in the basketball hotbed of Vermont. "I was hired as the equipment manager," Van Gundy recalled. "I handed out equipment for P.E., and I lined fields for athletic events. I had some students who helped me. Plus, I got to coach on the side for $1,500."
  • All-star plans and my Olympic decision
    Rashard Lewis explains why he declined an offer to join the U.S. Men's National Team.

    Playing for my country usually would have been an incredible experience and something I’ve always wanted to do. After thinking about it for a long while, I eventually declined the invitation for a couple of reasons.

    First of all, I’m having another baby this summer around the time that the camp is going on. It’s going to be a baby boy born on July 20th and it’ll be my first son. It’s going to be Junior. Rashard Lewis Jr., that’s so cool to me. So I’m really looking forward to that this summer.

    And here’s my second reason for declining: With the guys that they are already going to have on the team, there are really only three spots available. So it’s kind of like 18 guys trying out for three spots. There will be a lot of factors in the decision on who will make it and I just think at the end of the day that it would be tough for me to make that team.